I choose not to say happy ending because at 30, the Mele quadruplets are really just coming into their own.
Mom, Patricia Mele, DNP, NNP-BC, was a Nurse Practitioner in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital when she delivered her four tiny infants two months early. The quadruplets Bobby, Grace, Erin and Danny Mele were born at 29 weeks, on September 30, 1992 and wouldn’t leave the NICU until Thanksgiving, two months later. It was Patricia’s colleagues who took care of her and her babies in the NICU.
Despite their tenuous start in life, the quadruplets have all gone on to have successful careers, with half of the foursome choosing to train at Stony Brook Medicine, inspired by their own start in the NICU, their mom’s long and successful medical career and her stories of life in the NICU.
Talking to the siblings, it is abundantly clear how close they all are – they talk daily on a group chat – sharing good news and bad, and celebrating each other’s personal and career successes, of which there are many. The four went to school together, and college together, and according to Danny, “we are all very different, but all get along. It’s a lot of fun. We were never without friends – always in the same social group together while still doing our own thing.”
And the great news for all moms struggling with high-risk pregnancies is that along with successful careers and lives, they are all healthy, with no health issues associated with their early start to life, and an awful lot of happiness.
Grace Wilcox (nee Mele), DO was the smallest of the newborns weighing less than 2lbs. She is currently completing her General Surgery residency at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, and is starting her fellowship in Surgical Critical Care this summer, in North Carolina.
When she was younger Grace and her brothers volunteered in the Stony Brook Children’s NICU, watching over the newborns. She also worked with the March of Dimes, which helps give care and support to moms with babies in the NICU. Her mom’s career as a nurse was an introduction to medicine for Grace, and as her fascination grew it led her down a science-based path, continuing her higher education pursuing a medical degree.
Robert (Bobby) Mele, DNP, MBA, NNP-BC, received his master's in Neonatal Health from Stony Brook, School of Nursing. Bobby was trained and worked alongside Stony Brook Children's Neonatologist's, Nurse Practitioner's, and NICU Nurse's who also cared for him in the NICU back in 1992, including Attending Neonatologist and Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Stony Brook Children's - Dr. Joseph DeCristofaro, MD. He received expert training and mentoring throughout his Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from Duke University while at Stony Brook Children's. His doctoral committee consisted of NICU Medical Director - Dr. Shanthy Sridhar, MD & Pediatric Cardiology's Division Chief - Dr. Laurie Panesar, MD, FAAP, FASE and Pediatric Cardiology Nurse Practitioner - Dr. Marybeth Heyden, DNP, PNP.
Bobby is passionate about his profession and the role of NP's in neonatal critical care, "this is why I am doing what I am doing. I am lucky to be alive. I learned Neonatology from a unique perspective from being a NICU patient - to becoming a Neonatal NP. When I was born, I had RDS, and it was a Neonatal NP, Dr. Debra Sansoucie, EdD, NNP who intubated me and gave me surfactant which saved my life."
Danny Mele was the largest of the four babies at a still tiny 2.5 lbs. He is also the musician of the family.
All the children tried out instruments – drums, guitar, piano. But Danny was the only one that stuck with it, and he ended up making his life around music. Danny graduated in Business Administration with a minor in music and is now a performing musician, with a successful career working at the largest musical accessory company in the world.
Erin is the first born and says, “whether my siblings like it or not, I see myself as the oldest, and their protector, which transpired into my desire to protect and serve more than just my family. I’m not sure if the NICU impacted my service decision. However, I like to think my family did.”
Granddaughter of an NYPD officer and niece of a federal agent (Department of Diplomatic Security), Erin was a police officer in Raleigh for 7 years. She left recently to transition out of law enforcement to the Geico Special Investigations Unit.
Like her siblings, she says that going to college together was amazing, and getting to spend those 4 years with them was incredible and some of the best times of her life.
Their 30th Year
This last year has been a special one for the Mele family with marriage and two weddings to plan. Grace got married just last June, Danny will be getting married in December, and then Erin the following March.
We wish them all every happiness from Stony Brook Children’s NICU.